THOMASVILLE -- Scoring on the football field was Ben Hopkins' specialty.

On the basketball court, though, Hopkins' role will be to shut down opponents.

"Ben is our defensive specialist," Brookwood coach Brad Piazza said. "We put him on the guy that we want to stop with the basketball.

"He's quick, he has good hands. He gets his hands on (the ball) a lot."

Hopkins said his success and experience on the football field, where he scored 94 points this year, are the backbone for his defensive ability on the basketball court.

"You're not scared to put your arm (up) and hit somebody a little bit," Hopkins said. "Basketball is more contact than people think it is."

Hopkins displayed that stellar defensive work during a camp this summer. The Warriors lost to a private school from Tennessee by 30 early during the camp. Hopkins spent the majority of that game on the bench. By the end of the camp, Hopkins received plenty of playing time and in a rematch, Brookwood lost in overtime.

Piazza said that defensive effort was just part of a great camp for the senior guard, who has also improved his ballhandling. Entering his senior season, though, the most important part of Hopkins' game is that defensive work and the acceptance of that role for the Warriors.

"I'd say he has come as far, knowledge-wise and understanding of the game, as anybody," Piazza said. "He's just not a real good scorer. But everybody can't be good scorers when there's only one basketball, and he doesn't mind filling that role. He understands what his role is."

Hopkins has accepted that role and understands his limitations on the offensive end.

"Shooting," Hopkins said has been his biggest challenge. "Trying to get the ball in the net."

Hopkins' role as the defensive stopper is one of few known quantities for the Warriors heading into the season. Losing eight seniors the past two years has left Brookwood inexperienced and trying to find the right combination to continue the team's success on the court. The Warriors have won at least 20 games in each of the past three years.

"We've got some good things going," Piazza said of the program's success. "We've got so much talent, but there are so many combinations. It may be 10 games into the season before we find out what group works best.

"This year, with this group, nothing is known." While Hopkins will draw the tough defensive assignment, Piazza is expecting junior Ashton Thomas to step up on the offensive end. He also said senior Joe Reed and freshman Keith Bentley have improved from last season and is expecting sophomore Scott Cheney and junior Lee Hopkins to play extended minutes as well.

"They are going to be thrown into the fire," Piazza said.

"It's a totally different expectation to go from sitting there waiting to go in for a couple of minutes to go out there for the tip-off.

"That's a totally different expectation and some guys react better than others."

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